Montreal-based global security company GardaWorld is confirming its Belgium office was raided in early April in connection with an investigation by France's national financial crimes unit but maintains it was not the target of the probe.
GardaWorld spokeswoman Isabelle Panelli said Tuesday that despite the police search, the company was not itself being investigated, nor was it charged with any crime.
"There are no allegations against GardaWorld," Panelli said in an email. "Yes, our offices in Brussels were searched as part of an investigation that does not target GardaWorld."
News of the French police operation was first reported on April 11 by the Intelligence Online news website.
The site reported French police conducted a series of raids on April 2, including at the Brussels office of GardaWorld, in connection with a consortium of companies called RAPID, which won a contract to build a European Union compound in Somalia.
France's financial crimes unit, called the Parquet national financier, confirmed to The Canadian Press it had opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption of foreign officials and influence trafficking.
A spokesperson for the Parquet, who did not want their name published because they weren't authorized to speak to the media, said the investigation was related to the "facts that are cited in Intelligence Online."
The spokesperson would not give details about the target of the investigation or confirm that it was related to the European Union compound in Somalia.
Panelli said the French investigation indeed targeted RAPID, but she said GardaWorld was never part of the consortium.
"GardaWorld was hired as a sub-contractor for security services and did not participate in the contract tendering process and was never part of the RAPID consortium," she said. "Let's be clear, the Parquet national never indicated to GardaWorld that it was the subject of an investigation."
GardaWorld describes itself as the "world's largest privately owned security services company," with offices in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and in the Caribbean.
Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press